Updated: Feb 3, 2019
People struggle with setting goals. It seems like a daunting task. This is largely because they lack the proper knowledge to do so. After all, not everyone goes to management school. Even those that do are not always as prepared as they should be.
This may be the reason why management consultant, Peter Drucker, came up with a system as part of his Management by Objectives (MBO) theory. This system is essentially the SMART Goal setting system. If you are not familiar with SMART, it is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time-related. Each component deals with a part of goal setting.
Some have interpreted the letters in different ways. That’s okay as long as there is agreement. If you are using the acronym for your own purposes, use what makes the most sense to you and what works best.
To have a specific goal, imagine creating a video with you telling the viewers what your goal is about. They should be able to comprehend your goal without any questions. The more specific you can get, the better the overall goal setting process will be. For example, suppose you specify that you want more money as a goal. Would this draw questions if you presented this goal as it is? If the answer is yes, then you need further refinement.
When you figure out your goals, the next step is to understand how to measure them. General goals will be difficult to measure, whereas specific goals will be easier. This is the part that can help you be accountable for meeting your goals.
For a goal to be assignable, you need to be able to describe it in a way that you can pass it off to someone else. They should be able to run with it, and not get too stuck on the details.
Your goals should be realistic. People often get overzealous when setting their goals. They believe they should push themselves. Non-realistic goals will frustrate you and make you fail when trying to accomplish them. Of course, you don’t want to set goals that are too easy that you don’t see any growth.
You need to set time frames for your goals. Otherwise, you will come up with excuses to push them off, and you will never get them completed. The best way to do this is to break up your goals into tasks, and then come up with milestones for each of those tasks.